UFOs from flight deck over South China Sea - Flares?

johne1618

Active Member
Source: https://youtu.be/c8A1tGBOK9k

MUFON - event date: Nov 24 2021 - location: Hong Kong - Case 119564
South China sea, 9 lights visible in video, then it becomes 12 lights in formation, closest object disappears then 3 more objects reappear on outside of formation. Filmed at 39,000ft over the South China Sea, lights all then slowly vanish.

What are these strange trails of light?

They might be CGI but the YouTube poster claims a reverse image search has not brought up anything.

They might be flares but why don’t we see the plane(s) that dropped them or the smoke?

Here is an example of a flare drop in daytime:

Source: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PVL6sDZaknE

Reddit r/UFOs post:
Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/UFOs/comments/r8q34l/20211124_ufos_filmed_from_the_flight_deck_over/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=iossmf
 

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DavidB66

Senior Member
why don’t we see the plane that dropped them?
Maybe just Too Far Away? It's difficult to judge scale and distance, with only the clouds for comparison. I guess that a small plane without lights at a distance of, say, 10 miles would be invisible without magnification.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
what does the pilot say? it sounds like he's saying "4735"? but flight 4735 isnt really over the south china sea. (and the event date is iffy, but i guess that depends on the time zones)
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
The Reddit discussion, which is probably ongoing, has several comments supporting the 'flares' hypothesis, e.g.

It looks like flares to me. I wish it wasn’t but looks like a training exercise below the plane. I also have never seen the jets in flare videos. They are military so no lights and they are designed to be less visible not more like commercial planes. Also “precision dropped flares” I would be shocked if they had to engage each flare drop. I would assume it would be computer controlled and all the jets using the same software, it would be like saying that car has precision timed blinker blinks.
[I have corrected a few obvious spelling or typing errors.]

The leading hypothesis is that there is a formation of fighter jets (therefore much smaller than a military transport like the C130 shown in a video linked in #1 above) dropping flares as part of an exercise.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Flares from three planes would be my #1 guess, but it's certainly unusual looking.

These could be IR decoy flares, which have a shorter burn time than the illumination or flares you sometimes see at night. These seem to last about ten seconds.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Regarding visibility, flare can be very bright, and hence visible as points of light even if the plane is too small to be seen.

mLn9U.jpg
 

Steve Faure

New Member
Aren't these just reflections off the airline window of some lights inside the cabin? The speed and direction appears to match exactly the direction of flight. Further, there are three panes of glass on airline windows, and hence the three sets of lights which blink on and blink out simultaneously.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Aren't these just reflections off the airline window of some lights inside the cabin? The speed and direction appears to match exactly the direction of flight. Further, there are three panes of glass on airline windows, and hence the three sets of lights which blink on and blink out simultaneously.
I don't see how. Why would they be blinking out? Why would they move like that?
 

Steve Faure

New Member
I don't see how. Why would they be blinking out? Why would they move like that?
It could be from someone's laptop or phone or cabin lights reflecting off something. If you go frame by frame when zoomed in close you'll notice that the groups will appear to jump slightly or dim and brighten in tandem as though they are just one group of objects, not three. I suppose that could just be an illusion of the frame rate and unsteady hand on camera but I would think that the groups would not appear to be tied together in that way. That said, they don't otherwise appear to be carbon copies of one another, either. I think you're right though, flares.
I don't see how. Why would they be blinking out? Why would they move like that?
 

jackfrostvc

Active Member
If they are flares, they are either being fired from the ground. Or if they are from planes, the flares are coming up in updrafts or being shot upwards to above the clouds.

I don't buy at all the theory that they are from planes that cant be seen other then for the reason above which would have them below the clouds, Otherwise you would see something, even dots for the planes
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
If they are flares, they are either being fired from the ground. Or if they are from planes. The flares are coming up in updrafts to above the clouds - which I think is improbable. I don't buy at all the theory that they are from planes that cant be seen , you would see something, even dots (for the planes)
unless the guy didnt start filming until the planes were already out of view.
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
I don't buy at all the theory that they are from planes that cant be seen other then for the reason above which would have them below the clouds, Otherwise you would see something, even dots for the planes
Unless they are too far away to see on a video. Is there a point where a really bright flare is still visible on video but fighter-plane is not? I'd not be surprised, though I don't know how to test for that.

A question for folks who have more flare-knowing than I do - is there such a thing as flares that are dropped but delay lighting a bit, to where the plane may be higher and further ahead than where I am looking?
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
These seem to last about ten seconds.
And they all seem to all have the same duration from the moment they appear to the moment they flicker out and definitively disappear. The bright sudden appearance, standard duation and flickering fade at the end seem consistnt with pyrotechnic stuff.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Aren't these just reflections off the airline window of some lights inside the cabin? The speed and direction appears to match exactly the direction of flight. Further, there are three panes of glass on airline windows, and hence the three sets of lights which blink on and blink out simultaneously.

They're not blinking on and off though, the three nearest ones actually disappear as three new ones appear further away/at the top of each rank.

The planes would have to be in view (but not visible).

Is that possible? Even watching the original (not YouTube upload) I would have thought there'd be at least a little something visible if planes were in shot.
 

Dan Page

Senior Member.
Just an observation I noticed that may or may not have any relevance, but I believe the video was taken by someone in the cockpit (the first officer maybe) as we are hearing ATC give the aircraft the next frequency to contact. It is also possible (although I think unlikely) that a passenger has a receiver for aviation frequencies and is monitoring it while filming outside the window.
 

Bear100

New Member
what does the pilot say? it sounds like he's saying "4735"? but flight 4735 isnt really over the south china sea. (and the event date is iffy, but i guess that depends on the time zones)

Sounds like "Ryan Air 2735" to me. That's a flight from Finland to Germany, over the Baltic, a very active region of military cat and mouse between Russia/NATO and other nations, and there are a lot of military exercises in the region too.

The first voice, the Air Traffic Controller (doing what sounds like a hand-off to the next ATC on the route) almost sounds like an Asian accent, but might be Finnish or Baltic region. The response (a pilot or copilot) sounds a lot like someone from Ireland (consistent with it being Ryan Air) or UK/Australia to my ear, and clearly ends his transmission by ID'ing himself as "Ryan Air 2735"

Flightaware's data page on RyanAir's 2735:
https://flightaware.com/live/flight/RYR2735
 
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Bear100

New Member
Sounds like Ryan air 2725 to me. Still nowhere near the South China Sea.
https://flightaware.com/live/flight/RYR2725

I hear the complete message from ATC as: "Ryan Air 2725 (or 35) ...[two syllable unintelligible]... continue 120 decimal 7. Good day."
Sounds like a hand-off to the next ATC center (or approach?). A text search of this page lists 120.7 as Vilnius, Lithuania Approach:

https://www.liveatc.net/feedindex.php?type=international-eu

Don't know if the South China Sea region has a center on that frequency, but it's consistent with the general vicinity of either Ryan Air 2725 or 2735.
 
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Easy Muffin

Active Member
The controller says 'contact Ho Chi Minh, 120.7', the enroute facility for southern Vietnam. Since the other pilot is asked to contact them and this was supposedly shot over the South China Sea it's quite likely that they are currently speaking with a Chinese controller that's working Sanya, the facility bordering Ho Chi Minh to the north or maybe Manila to the east (the accent sounds more Chinese to me).

Assuming they were southbound on airway L642, I notice there's a danger area off to the right. Might be plausible there could be somone actively dropping flares in there. Really not much to go on though for this to be more than an idea. Usually you'd get more information on these areas from that country's AIP documentation but China doesn't make theirs freely available to the public.

https://skyvector.com/?ll=16.002871694028826,111.53430176181122&chart=304&zoom=3

Callsign kind of sounds like 'Bayon Air' to me. That used to be Cambodia Bayon Airlines, a short-lived venture that ceased operations in 2019 after 4-5 years of active service.

EDIT: Had a quick look on FR24 for other possible callsigns in that area. Another good, arguably better, candidate is Hong Kong Airlines, callsign 'Bauhinia'. They have a flight 2735, Hong Kong to Singapore several times per week. One's in the air right now in that general area.
 
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johne1618

Active Member
Assume that the height of the plane is 39,000 ft = 12000 m.

Wikipedia claims that the height of typical cloud cover can vary from 5000 m in temperate latitudes to 8000 m in the tropics. Hong Kong is on the edge of the tropics so let's say that the height of the clouds is 7000 m.

trig.jpg
If we assume a viewing angle of 30 degrees below the horizontal then the distance d to the lights is given by:

d = 5000/cos(60 deg) = 10000 meters.

Wikipedia says that the angular resolution of the human eye is 0.0003 radians.

Therefore the observers should have been able to resolve an object of size 10000*0.0003=3 meters at the distance of the lights. An airplane is at least 10 meters in size so the observers should have been able to see planes if they were dropping flares.

jackfrostvc said:
If they are flares, they are either being fired from the ground.

This site claims that rocket flares only reach to a maximum height of 300 m so it is unlikely that the lights are flares launched from the earth surface.
 
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Shrinker

New Member
If they are flares, they are either being fired from the ground. Or if they are from planes, the flares are coming up in updrafts or being shot upwards to above the clouds.

I don't buy at all the theory that they are from planes that cant be seen other then for the reason above which would have them below the clouds, Otherwise you would see something, even dots for the planes
There's no reason to believe a modern digital camera would have to show the planes. For multiple theoretical and practical reasons, cameras (and eyes) pick up pinpoints of bright incandescence, far better than they pick up pinpoints of darkness. For an example of this in action you can look at airborne dust motes - they show up in camera flashes or beams of sunlight in a dark room, but those same motes rarely show up as dark spots against a light background.
 

Shrinker

New Member
Wikipedia says that the angular resolution of the human eye is 0.0003 radians.

Therefore the observers should have been able to resolve an object of size 10000*0.0003=3 meters at the distance of the lights. An airplane is at least 10 meters in size so the observers should have been able to see planes if they were dropping flares.
Planes are not 10m spheres. And colour contrast is also very relevant.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Another arguably better candidate is Hong Kong Airlines, callsign 'Bauhinia'. They have a flight 2735, Hong Kong to Singapore several times per week.

That's the one I thought as well. Details for the flight on the 24th can be found here:

https://uk.flightaware.com/live/flight/CRK2735/history/20211124/0913Z/VHHH/WSSS

It also flies over the South China Sea at 39,000 feet:

1638717707923.png

Ho Chi Minh City is the one labelled SGN in the centre of the image. This plane passed there around 1900 HKT and the sunset time that day was 1827 HKT (at ground level).

Incidentally, the last message acknowledged as received by MH370 was:

Malaysian three seven zero contact Ho Chi Minh 120 decimal nine. Good night.
 
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johne1618

Active Member
Why 30°?

I just guessed 30° which might well be a serious flaw in my argument. Even so, if it was just 10° then the observers should still have been able to resolve a 10 m plane although, as Shrinker says in post #30, planes aren't spheres and contrast can be very important.
 
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Rory

Senior Member.
Just to be clear, that Hong Kong Airlines crew is only heard over the radio so they cannot have filmed the video. However the crew that did film it was tuned into the same frequency and so must have been nearby. Filming towards the west probably.

Yes, good point. And good ear also in picking out the specifics of what they were saying. :)
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I just guessed an angle. It could have been 45° but I don't think it changes my argument. I believe that the observers should have been able to see planes if they were there.
Of course it changes things. The angle is pretty shallow, not much below the horizon in the wide shot (which is more like the "naked eye" shot). More in the 10° range. Might be able to get a better estimate for other sunset images if the disk of the sun (0.5°) is visible.
2021-12-05_07-58-41.jpg
 

gargamel

Member
Well, good luck getting the PLAAF to tell you anything about their ops.

Three smallish Chinese fighters (J-10s or so, which present a small profile and are uniformly "lo-viz" matte gray in color) in these lighting conditions would be near-invisible to the naked eye at a certain distance, while flares at such a distance would easily be seen.

I found an example of a MiG-29 doing it in Russia, as well. One after another, slowly:
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8A7MW5q5KgQ

Notably, the actual plane isn't visible here either.

IMO it's not a question of whether it's flares or not, that seems so obvious that any alternative idea would require flares to be decisively debunked first. The question is what exactly the point of this is, as they are short-lived decoy flares, not more long-lived illumination or target flares (yes, there are air-dropped parachute-suspended flares used for IR targeting exercises). Mick showed another spot-on demonstration of another aircraft dropping them in this fashion, so it's obvious that they do it occasionally, but I still don't quite understand the point.

edit: Few years back there was an aerial altercation in the Baltic between a Russian jet and a Swedish SIGINT aircraft, and the Russians wanted to chase it away from near Kaliningrad. They dropped flares demonstratively, or more like a harassment method.
 

Ravi

Senior Member.
I just guessed 30° which might well be a serious flaw in my argument. Even so, if it was just 10° then the observers should still have been able to resolve a 10 m plane.

The 10km distance estimate sounds okay to me. Theoretically the human eye should be able to resolve an object of fair contrast at that distance. But I could also argue that atmospheric influence and lack of contrast can influence this angular resolution.

On the other hand, we don't know the specifics of the camera used and cannot see/calculate if that can resolve it.

I do agree I am having a hard time believing that we cannot see the plane in the video!
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
The question is what exactly the point of this is, as they are short-lived decoy flares,
this may sound silly, but i recently saw a vid of planes after refueling they send out flares like as a thank you or something. the article was about how much those flares cost us tax payers.

is that a possibility? a refueling thankyou? but we'd for sure see the big refueling plane right?
 

gargamel

Member
this may sound silly, but i recently saw a vid of planes after refueling they send out flares like as a thank you or something. the article was about how much those flares cost us tax payers.

is that a possibility? a refueling thankyou? but we'd for sure see the big refueling plane right?

I don't think these types of flares are very expensive. They are housed as cartridges in magazines on the rear fuselage, many hundreds of them. Of course the actual purpose is for them to be used in case the MAW system signals a missile approaching (sometimes they're used preemptively when flying low over dangerous areas where MANPADS could be present), but they often throw them out en masse at airshows ("flare dump" is what people call it) for added visual effect, for instance.



But you do have a point, some kind of signalling (like your idea of a "thank you") could be the case (or "go away now", as in my anecdote of the angry Russians vs. the Swedish spy plane), and since they're probably Chinese in this example, who knows how their "signalling culture" works, or their military ops in general.

But what speaks against it is that we have three examples of planes doing this slow dropping of flares in a straight line seemingly for no reason, three examples from three vastly different countries. Something tells me that there is some other point to it, but I can't figure out what it could be.
 
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